The Field

The Crowne Plaza is one of the oldest events on tour.  For that reason it’s been granted “Invitational” status meaning it has a more subjective qualification process and a smaller field of approximately 122 golfers.  The cut however is still the same and the top 70 and ties will gain access to play on the weekend and a shot at the “Tartan Jacket”—the prize bestowed on the winner here each year.

There’s not a ton of top end talent in the field this week, but Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and defending champion Adam Scott will all be in the field.  It’s a small but quality field and I expect a tight leaderboard for the most part.

Course Details

Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas

Par 70, 7100-7200 yards

Colonial golf course challenges players in numerous ways.  It’s not super long but does contain some very long par 4’s and some challenging par 3’s as well.  It’s got many tight tree-lined fairways as well as many doglegged holes that put a premium on accuracy off the tee.  To make things even tougher, there’s a plethora of bunkers throughout the course and play from the sand is something to keep note of this week—there are some premium bunker players in the list of past winners.  The greens are smaller than normal here and there is water in play helping to protect some of the greens.  To sum it all up, Colonial is very much about target golf and power is not generally a huge factor this week.  Hitting fairways and greens will be crucial and those who don’t will be at a severe disadvantage.

Past 5 winnersUSATSI_8567945_168381090_lowres

Adam Scott—2014 
Boo Weekley—2013
Zach Johnson—2012
David Toms—2011
Zach Johnson—2010

What will it take to succeed at Colonial?

This course generally favours experience over youth.  Many experienced tour veterans have long and solid records at Colonial and a look at the past winners show a list of players well into 30’s or older.  While length is not important, the mature tree-lined fairways demand a solid ball striking week, and that is generally what allowed last year’s winner Adam Scott to claim the title.  Scott is also an excellent bunker player and play from the sand should not be overlooked.  With smaller than normal greens, players with great short games have often fared well at Colonial as the ability to get up and down can mask a poor ball-striking week.  Colonial also plays quite similar to other par 70 courses on tour—such as Hilton Head and Waiala—and players with accurate iron play have often thrived at these events.  Players who can hit accurate shots into the green and navigate the dog-legs correctly should find themselves in contention.

Who has had success here?

This event has a long and storied history of play at Colonial golf course and many players have records worth noting:

 
  • Zach Johnson is easily the golfer of note this week in terms of course history. In his last 8 visits he’s won twice, had finishes of 3rd and 4th and also never missed a cut in that span.  He’s the lead horse for the course this week.
  • Bo Van Pelt is a streaky golfer but at Colonial he’s been extremely consistent. Over the past ten years he’s never missed the cut at this event and has 6 top twenties.  He loves this course.
  • Ryan Palmer is a Texas native who also seems to love playing in his hometown state. His last four visits to Colonial have yielded two T5’s and no missed cuts
  • Chris Kirk is a fan of many similarly styled par 70 golf courses so it’s not a shock to see that he’s got a nice record at Colonial. Since 2011 he’s made 4 out of 4 cuts here and posted 4th, 14th and 16th place finishes.
  • Finally, while his form in 2015 has been sub-par, Jason Dufner has two second place finishes at this event in the past three years.  Something about the course obviously suits his eye.
 

Who has struggled here?

 
  • Angel Cabrera hits it long but has never been known for his accuracy. It should not come as a surprise that he’s missed two of four cuts at this event and never finished better than 30th
  • Jerry Kelly has the type of game that should do well at Colonial but lately has not had much success. His last four visits have seen a missed cut and a high finish of 39th
  • Kevin Streelman has a 10th place finish at this event but has also missed 3 of his last 4 cuts here. He’s a hit or miss option who’s struggled at this course more times than not.
  • Finally if you’re looking for a punt option this week look away from Keith Clearwater.  He’s played here nine times since 2005 and missed the cut in all 9 attempts.
What statistics are important?

Par 4 scoring
Proximity to the hole
Scrambling/Sand-save percentage

Colonial contains a lot of tough, longer par 4’s, and with only two par 5’s on the golf course players will have to perform well on the par 4’s throughout the week to compete.  I think par 4 scoring is a key stat this week and something to focus in.  The other two statistics I’ll be giving extra weight to are scrambling and proximity to the hole.  Players who are dialed in with their iron play should be able to hit the smaller greens with more regularity and also give themselves more looks at birdies.  Conversely, players who can get up and down from off the green will find themselves in a better position than those who struggle to do so.  You may also want to look at sand-save percentages this week.  Good bunker players have tended to perform well at Colonial as bunkers are strewn throughout the fairways and around the greens.  Playing well from the sand can be a huge benefit and a way to make up for a sub-par approach game at Colonial.

My Recommendation

Look for players who have been hitting the ball well in their past few events.  While distance is not key, hitting it close to the pin and hitting a lot of greens will be important this week.  Players who are dialed with their driving accuracy and iron play should fare well.  Additionally, golfers who have the savvy to play well from the bunkers and just off the green should get an added bump for fantasy purposes this week.   Missing the small greens isn’t recommended but when it does occur you want your player to be well enough equipped to save par most of the time.

My Pick to win: Kevin Na

Even though he’s a little pricy this week it’s really hard to ignore Na’s performance over the past couple months.  He’s posted 4 top ten’s on his last 6 events and was in contention all week at the Players.  I think this course sets up great for him as he’s ranked very highly in many statistical categories of importance and has a solid course history at Colonial.  He’s my pick to win.